About the John T. Christian Library


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The New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary maintains comprehensive on-campus libraries.

The main library, the John T. Christian Library, is the largest theological collection in the gulf coast region. It includes extensive materials relating to theology, biblical studies, Christian education, pastoral ministries, and related fields. The Martin Music Library is a specialized library providing extensive music and worship related resources. To learn more about these libraries, please visit the appropriate "about" links provided in the navigation menu to the right.

The basic collection of the John T. Christian Library came from the library of the outstanding church historian, John T. Christian, who was not only professor church history, but the first librarian of the seminary. He gave the school his personal library of 18,000 volumes when he joined the faculty in 1919. The main campus collection constains over 280,000 items, with additional holdings at extenion centers and prison extension centers. These items consist of bound volumes, plus tracts, pamphlets, annuals, microfilm, and other materials. The library is one of the larger stand alone theological libraries in the country. (Information about the Martin Music Library can be found on that web page).

The library collections are classified according to the Library of Congress Classification system. The main catalog to the collection is available online via any internet accessible computer. (https://nobts.ent.sirsi.net/client/en_US/nobts)

The book stacks (shelves) are open. Students and other patrons may go to the book stacks and select the books they choose to borrow. Reference books,theses, and computer resources are in the Reference Room where facilities are provided for study and research. Inquiry should be made at the circulation desk for information regarding library materials.

The main and music libraries of the seminary provide numerous online and electronic resources: online databases, electronic journals, virtual reference room, music resources. Most of these are proprietary and are accessible only to NOBTS students and faculty, but some are available for all patrons to use.

Uniqueness of the NOBTS libraries

The libraries of NOBTS service not only the students and faculty of the seminary, but a large geographic region of Southern Baptist presence. A geographic radius of approximately 400 miles from New Orleans passes through nine states(LA, TX, OK, AR, MS, AL, TN, GA, FL). Those states have a combined total of 37 seminaries/divinity schools. Of those 37, only 2 are SBC (NOBTS and SWBTS).

Sixteen seminaries fall within the 400 mile radius. Their library collections vary in size from 57,000 -532,000 volumes. NOBTS has the third largest collection. The two larger collections (SWBTS and Emory-Candler) are at the outer limits of the geographic radius, thus making the NOBTS libraries the largest theological collection within a 5-6 hour drive in any direction of New Orleans.

The libraries of NOBTS support a wide variety of degree programs. Programs of study at most of the 16 seminaries within this radius are restricted to divinity. Besides NOBTS itself, only 5-6 other schools offer degree programs in Christian education and only 3 offer degree programs in sacred/church music. This combination makes the NOBTS libraries a unique resource in the South and Gulf Coast region.

From an historical perspective the NOBTS libraries are unique in that the core of the John T. Christian Library, approximately 18,000 volumes, is the collection of Dr. John. T. Christian, a noted Southern Baptist figure and church historian. His personal library served as the first library for the Baptist Bible Institute (now NOBTS). The Martin Music Library is named after the noted Southern Baptist church musician and former faculty member of the school of music, William Plunkett Martin. Both the John T. Christian and Martin Music Libraries have other unique collections integrated into their holdings or as separate special collections:

  • The Edmond Keith collection (noted Baptist church musician and former professor of the school of music at NOBTS is integrated into the Martin Music Library holdings
  • Portions of the C. Penrose St. Amant collection are integrated into the holdings of the John T. Christian Library
  • A large portion of J. D. Grey's (noted SBC pastor) personal library are a separate special collection within the John T. Christian Library

The archives of the libraries of NOBTS contain not only institutional memorabilia and documents, but the personal papers of such noted SBC figures as Dr. C. Penrose St. Amant (church historian) and W. W. Hamilton (former NOBTS president and former president of the SBC), Personal papers of Dr. V. L. Stanfield, noted SBC professor of preaching (NOBTS and SBTS) and pulpiteer. and the archives of First Baptist Church, New Orleans.

The rare collections of the libraries also are unique in the region in that the music library rare collection has over 700 rare hymnals and Psalters; some dating back to the early 17th century. The main library rare collection has numerous items dating back into the 18th and 17th centuries; an autographed volume by C. H. Spurgeon noting that it [the volume] was his favorite book is part of this collection, and 3 incunabula – books printed before 1501. Several rare manuscripts, including an 8th century Hebrew scroll, are on loan to the NOBTS Center for New Testament Textual Studies for display purposes and careful study.

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